The first in a seven part series, Nifi, a short story, follows the character of Nifidorian Feltwood, who lost his mother when he was just a boy, and now at the age of fifteen has to deal with the potential loss of his father. He embarks on a search but along the way encounters interesting characters and creatures whilst also having to deal with not having the very person he is searching for beside him. A desire for wanting to explore the world in search of a purpose outside of seal hunting turns into him having no choice but to do so. All of this is intertwined within a fantasy backdrop within the port town of Glaceport.
Nifi woke from his slumber with a firm nudge on his shoulder. It was his father waking him as he did every morning at dawn. “Nifi, move your arse.” As any teenager does, Nifi hated those words. “Five more minutes,” he groaned, his voice thick with sleep.
Nifi’s father could destroy a dream of a few more minutes in bed with that one word. It wasn’t the word itself, it was how he dropped his voice and turned it cold that did the damage. Nifi was straight onto his feet and out of bed, if you can call it that. It was a modest set up; a simple wooden frame with a deer pelt laid over it and simple furs to wrap up in. There were enough deer’s in the Southern woods of Glaceport to make their pelts cheap. None of these fancy cat furs like the ones found down South to keep one warm at night. Nonetheless, there was a reason that one word made Nifi’s ascent from the warmth of his furs to the cold air of their cabin so quick. It was the thought of the consequence that may unravel if he didn’t. He had both love and respect for his father but also a fear of him.
“Put on your hunting furs and grab your harpoon. Meet me outside,” his father, Flynn, uttered in a commanding tone.
Nifi made his way across the room to the fire where his furs hung over a splint that perched close enough above it to make his clothes delightfully warm to put on, but not too close as to set them alight and send Nifi and his Father scrambling out into the bleak, dark cold. That had happened a few years back and the memory brought a remembering grin to the corner of his mouth. Nifi put his base layer of seal skin over his head and slid into it. This acted as an extra form of insulation against the bitter glacial air that he was about to step into. Then over that he wrapped up into his wolf furs. He then picked up his harpoon that was rested against the wall of the cabin and stepped out to witness the Glaceportian sunrise.
The sunrise of Glaceport was something of sheer beauty that could not be found anywhere else in the world, at least that is what Nifi’s father said every morning. This particular morning, however, Nifi was not inclined to agree. As it rose above the fifty-foot glaciers that surrounded the port it produced an orangey-red burst that made the sun look like it had exploded across the sky as remnants oozed down from on top of the ice. A spectacular view indeed, but a bit old. Nifi had witnessed it every morning for fifteen years after all. Even when he was a babe in arms his mother would take him out every dawn to witness it and he would cry as if he thought the sun was breaking and the end of the world was nigh. He missed his mother.
“Such beauty can’t be found anywhere else in the world, Nifi,” his Father said in a hushed tone as he let out a sigh. Passion and sentiment were written across his face.
“If you say so, father.” Nifi was hardly going to agree with him granted how much it irked him that he said it every morning and the defiance in his mood. Nifi had never actually seen any other part of the world. They both stared at the sunrise in silence for a few moments, shoulder to shoulder. Despite Nifi only being fifteen he did stand shoulder to shoulder with his father. Not because his father was short, he was average standing at around five feet and nine inches, but because Nifi was tall for his age. The tallest man in Glaceport, Dirk, stood at six feet and three inches and Nifi quietly wished to himself that he would exceed that.
“Ready?” Flynn asked abruptly.
“Mmm hmm,” Nifi responded, sounding bored.
“Good, let’s get to it then, we only have a few hours before the markets open.”
Nifi and his father hunted seals for their skins and whatever else they could scavenge from the carcasses and sold it on the markets. The seals could still be found nesting on the shores surrounding the port when the sun rose and so every morning they took to the hunt before the markets opened. They had their own stall sat by the harbour itself in the hope of earning business from the sailors that came in and out of Glaceport. Their insulative seal skins had great appeal to the sailors embarking on voyages back out into the glacial waters, for obvious reasons.
Flynn lead the way down from their cabin towards the icy waters, passing the inn (The Flailing Seal), the tackle shop and many residential cabins that held the sleeping inhabitants of Glaceport. Nifi envied them curled up in their warm furs. He was in a despondent mood this morning. He told himself it was the feeling of a Monday but his mind didn’t buy it. Over the last few years he’d grown increasingly aware that he desired something bigger than this. Something exciting. He felt a sadness in his stomach that this was it for him, this was his life, but also guilt in his heart that he was thinking such thoughts and what it would do to his father if he knew. Send him into a rage was Nifi’s guess. He’d worked so hard for this after all. He made his walk more enthusiastic after that, in an attempt to mask his feelings from his father. He’d always been good at that but this morning he was finding it increasingly difficult. He had been for the last few months.